Orange details 2G and 3G termination plans

Laurent Leboucher, SVP of Orange Innovation, spoke to at MWC 2022 about the shut off its of legacy networks and the deal with Ericsson and Nokia to build out its 5G core.

Orange made two big announcements at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today – firstly that it will be shutting off its 2G and 3G networks in all territories by 2030, and secondly that it has signed a deal with Ericsson, Nokia and Oracle to facilitate its 5G standalone rollout.

We caught up with Orange at MWC 2022, who told us as well as encouraging 4G and 5G adoption, switching off its 2G and 3G networks is a move to save the environment and to mitigate the risks of hacking.

“One [reason] is to allow our customers to move to more efficient and more powerful offers with much more advanced capabilities like 4G and 5G, so we want to allow them to move to these new technologies and at the same time, we want to simplify our network,” said Laurent Leboucher, SVP of Orange Innovation (pictured). “So there is also a cost aspect. We want also to make it much more sustainable with more efficiency in terms of energy consumption, which is very important in the rollout plan.”

In terms of the timeline, Leboucher said “We have basically two major steps, one is 2025 when we will phase out 3G in all European countries except France. In France, we start with 2G. The reason for that is we have very strong 3G coverage compared to 2G in France, so we decided to do it in different order. The second step which will happen between 2028 and 2030, and then we will have switched off the two technologies across Europe.”

When asked how this would affect IoT deployments, something Orange has been very involved in on the b2b space, he added: “2G and 3G are used on the b2b side for IoT customers. “So we need to work to help them to move to the new solutions in 4G (LTE-M, LTE category one, NB IoT), or 5G. So this is also very important and we need to address it as part of the plan. Obviously, it will be one of the most critical parts of this will be in France because we will start with 2G, so there is no fallback for devices which are already which are using that today. So we need to help our customers and we have a plan. We have a very strong focus to help them to address this evolution.”

AT MWC Orange also announced it had signed up Ericsson, Nokia and Oracle for different aspects of its 5G standalone rollout. “We are announcing that we will move to deploy the core network for 5G SA across European countries. We are working with Nokia and Ericsson depending on the countries we work with those vendors,” said Leboucher.

While the retirement of legacy networks is inevitable, the timing isn’t. Rather than a purely evolutionary move, Orange is clearly keen to tie the 2G/3G closure with its green credentials – associating it with its plan to be carbon neutral by 2040. The fusing of gestures towards sustainability with technology rollouts is clearly developing into a wider theme for MWC this year.

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